“Why do you go to church?”
I attended church growing up as a child and became a Christian at age 14. For a number of reasons, neither my life nor my faith since then has been the “picture perfect” or a “steady upward trajectory” of success like you hear in some stories, for a number of reasons. But just because my wife and I have been thrown a few curves in our lives does not mean our outward “failures” have not yielded inward successes. Outward or inward, our seasons of change have been, in some cases, polar opposites of each other. Our outward crucible of a disheveled life belies the inward purification of bad habits being lost for better ones. We both are seeing this as we grow: the inward changes of our new roots will be reflected by the outward results with our fruit.
Part of that change was me becoming a writer. Part of the issue of becoming a writer is beginning to see things as they are; not how the marketing and current content in the marketplace and church are being played out. When I began my research for HWJDB How Would Jesus do Business?, I found a dearth of both accurate and credible content for my Christian entrepreneurial needs. Much like we see today in the lack of trade skills being taught in K-12, we also see the lack of Biblically-based training for work and business in church. While we are hearing more and more about “faith and work,” there is an even greater dearth about “faith and business.”
Sermon content is king
Watching Sir Ken Robinson discuss his TED Talk, Do schools kill creativity?, he shares how our skewed school curriculum and structure hurts our society (it’s geared more toward girls, hurting the development of boys and young men; notice little to no trade skills like shop today in schools). Cameron Herold in his TED Talk, Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs, shares how schools, with parents pushing this narrative, are more grade-centric and not child-centric, i.e. teaching content toward building a child’s confidence and development of their strengths, versus the error-prone myth of shoring up their weaknesses.
If schools do this, churches may follow the same path. Today, many churches lean more toward entertaining people than providing their members with good content that truly refreshes their souls. Which brings us to a March 9-29, 2017 Gallup poll. Church goers were asked why they attend church or synagogue. The poll received some surprising answers to their poll. The major reasons for Americans attending church are:
- Sermons relevant to life = 75 percent
- Sermons teaching Scripture = 76 percent.
The next to last reason for church goers was social activities. The bottom reason was a good choir, praise band, or cantor or spiritual music. Yet, it seems like religious organizations are not getting the message.
Belonging to a church, synagogue or mosque provides people with important social benefits that Gallup research shows improves personal well-being. While social benefits are clearly important to majorities of those who worship regularly, what most motivates them to attend is learning more about the tenets of their faith, as well as connecting that faith to their lives.
Reminds me of the street preacher yelling to passersby, “Repent! Repent!” A man says, “I did, now what?” The preacher looks at the man, then back at the crowd, and replies, “Repent!”
After people come to faith, now what? The “three points in a sermon and a prayer” might be considered doctrinal pablum, but the poll seems to indicate that people are looking for more. A deeper, yet not complicated, look at how to live out one’s faith: Faith + works.
“Where’s the beef?”
Like the 1984 Wendy’s commercial asking the question, “Where’s the beef?”, I have asked a similar question: “Where’s the Biblical content for businesses?” That was late in 2013. From that point, I took the time and and researched and wrote the book, HWJDB How Would Jesus Do Business? Why? Because I found little to no content reflecting what both my wife and I needed as entrepreneurs: Business content that is strongly Biblically-based. Not content that spouts, “These seven habits of successful people,” but here’s the Bible verse and how you can apply it to your daily lives.
What is typical at all levels and sizes of churches are the large and well-known businesses and the CXOs running them, i.e. the “rich” or big businesses attracting fundraisers and donation seekers. During one BAM (Business As Mission) meeting, I suggested that the Forgotten Man, the middle class, and especially solopreneurs, are forgotten in the church. Solopreneurs are the side hustlers trying to make an extra $200-500 to keep their financial heads above water.
From history, we know that Jesus apprenticed and ran a general contracting business for 18 years, from age 12 to 30. Crickets from the church. Christ’s work leads to good works. Christ’s death on the cross achieves salvation for each individual. The next steps, then, are to learn wisdom, work serving others, and create wealth. It’s not just learning content, but the right content: Content about our social responsibilities, being stewards of our God-given talents to create wealth. It’s applying our faith with our works.
Growth comes from the grassroots, not top-down
All growth comes when seeds are planted into fertile ground. A recent discussion with some fellow Christians revealed what I have come to realize: They know what should be done, grow the group and cause organically. Church leadership had different ideas—top-down directions and solutions.
Scrap the constant “leadership” mantra and top-down directional aspect of the needed change. Quality sermon (i.e. business) content is needed. Then, let the people work it out, grassroots, individual-to-individual. Why? Because people want to follow their calling. In most cases, they know what is best. They know what they need; Top-down content creates bottom-up change.
When we talk grassroots, look at the strata of people and businesses in the church, whether a $5 million or $500.00 revenue company. All struggle. When you read the writings of Paul, the first half of his letters are doctrinal (faith): the second half are doable (works). Paul equipped the saints “for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
When the church quits leading and starts feeding the church, its people and the church will grow.
Are you being fed the right quality and quantity of content to grow your business organically?